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Thread: Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

  1. #14
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    very interesting discussion. Though about ateliers, I think that the majority of the sessions classes in LAAFA(www.laafa.org) are pretty analytical(or constructional) instead of visual.

    I don't know much about the atelier program though.
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  4. #15
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    Damn! Thanks!

    I'm just about to finish first trimester at Angels - I ask about gesture and form and all the fun stuff - and the answer :
    "sure, we'll get to that - after some years!!!"
    Even perspective isn't taught untill 2nd year.
    But the main instructor Jered has a very good understanding of form.

    About the change in the academies - Prudhons earlier drawings were much less realistic as well. Though totally cool and perfect regarding planar and anatomical understanding!

    All right, please tell me what book you got those images from? And where to find the spanish drawings online?

    I got a huge collection of russian academical 20th century drawings, and some from the High art school of Bulgaria. I wonder if I should make a new thread and just post all of them there.

    Ok, I'll post a few here :

    The first three are russian academic drawings - first and third are unknown artists. Second one is by Harmalov.
    The last two drawings are from Boris Kazakov's school in Skt. Petersburg
    The draftsman of the last drawing is now a teacher at "the drawing academy"
    http://www.animwork.dk/Default.asp?ID=655
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  6. #16
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    What if you like both and have money for neither? :p
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  8. #17
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    hummel1dane YES! please put those up! That is true draftsmanship. I love Harlamoff's portraits, but I had no clue he was such a great figure draftsman.

    You have one of recent Chinese books on Russian drawing correct? Anyway, I have a huge file of high res American paintings (including my favorite, Dean Cornwell), plus a lot of academic and old master drawings that are hard to find online. If you put yours up I'll put mine up

    Most of the images can be found online, I just rummaged a lot to find them. Some are from artstor.org, a huge internet library service that can only be accessed through a participating public institution. (like my university).

    When I mentioned the book, I meant that I got certain information from it (like model time for students).

    Here are some volumes of interest though.

    The French neoclassic and academic tradition, 1800-1900 : figurative and compositional paintings, oil sketches, and works on paper : winter exhibition, 1984 Shepherd Gallery.

    French oil sketches and the academic tradition Barnes, Joanna.

    The invention of the model : artists and models in Paris, 1830-1870 Waller, Susan

    The artist's model from Etty to Spencer Postle, Martin

    Strictly academic; life drawing in the nineteenth century State University of New York at Binghamton. University Art Gallery

    Thanks again man!

    Ps:

    Hyskoa if that's your situation you
    A) stop complaining and
    B) find as many examples of fine draftsmanship and copy copy copy.
    C) work from life a lot...a lot a lot...
    D) try to relocate if you can.
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  10. #18
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  12. #19
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    This is such a great discussion which I am really enjoying. The differences between different approaches and styles to drawing have tormented me for at least a decade and it's nice to see them aired and discussed here.

    I guess I've always felt that there was really no one particular school where you could learn the 'whole enchilada' if you were really interested in the kind of Renaissance approach to drawing with the exemplars of Michelangelo, Pontormo, et al. I agree with Ramon's assessment of the weaknesses of the Florentine ateliers - the drawings coming out of there are *amazing*, but they are missing that special something / spark of life which comes from a Renaissance style drawing which the 'Art Center' style sort of mimics in a watered down, stylized, and animation influenced way. If you are interested in Barque drawing (which I think is fantastic) that's one valid approach, but I agree that you probably need both approaches to get the ultimate in a drawing education. I'd like to note that Otis College of Art, where I teach, teaches somewhat similarly to the Denmark drawing academy, in that it is primarily based on Gottfried Bammes, and layers of analytical, analogy based drawing using the point of the pencil or charcoal, and not shading. Teaching in this style has definitely informed my personal understanding of drawing, but of course I love the more emotionally responsive, gestural style of Art Center / Vilppu as well. I really should take a class with Will, his work looks great.

    But really, is there a school out there which teaches the Renaissance style? I have never come across anything like this.

    Edit: here are some examples of Otis style construction drawings. (These are photos I took from the Otis Senior Show 2009).
    Last edited by Rebeccak; June 14th, 2009 at 09:30 PM.

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  14. #20
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    Hi Rebecca, nice to see you in here! I can't say that I've been grappling with these approaches for nearly as long, but I have spent a LOT of time mulling it over in the past 2 years I think avoiding confusion and finding an approach that works is largely contingent on understand the philosophical grounds/outlook that gives rise to particular ways of drawing.

    It is almost impossible to find a school that teaches "the whole enchilada", because no school like that has ever existed. The studios of the Renaissance didn't teach the same level of visual verisimilitude as the late 19th century ateliers, the ateliers never had the same understanding of form or the penchant for the kind of decorative, grand scale imaginative work as the earlier painters.

    Each group of artists, either individually or as a school, zeroes in on the artistic problems that are most important to that age and develop artistic approaches to solve these problems. In the renaissance, the primary concern was to use the human figure as a vehicle for the expression of the universal. Because of this, the replication of reality in its commonplace aspect was rejected, as was the rendering of individualized features (even in portraiture things were idealized to a degree).

    The drawing approaches employed in the Renaissance had to meet the demands of creating work from the imagination, in which they weren't depicting a man but Man.

    By the same token, with the rise of individualism in European societies, artistic concerns changed as well. The 19th century was an age that showed greater concern for the individual and his/her needs. Because of this, more attention was paid to rendering the particular. Church commissions were not longer as important, and the depiction of everyday reality was paramount. Thus, a new way of rendering the particularities of reality was developed.

    The Florence figure drawings are remarkable as renderings of values and the visual field. But they might as well be drawings of anything in the field. That is, they're not drawing people, they're drawing how light falls on them, or the shapes that are created on the retina. So it's the same approach whether it's a person, or still life. The form based, tactile approach demands particular knowledge of the thing being represented.

    Because these aims of representation are different and at times opposed to one another, it is impossible to find a school that focuses on both. Moreover, logistics are part of it too. The schools that teach construction often don't have the time or resources to hold long poses, and the number of committed students, willing to take years and years to learn it all are scarce. On the other hand, ateliers would be hard-pressed to find many instructors well schooled enough in the sculptural approach to really teach it effectively. Plus, having that specialized knowledge of human and animal anatomy, etc, puts a steeper learning curve on a program, making it take longer....thus making it improbable that students will go through the whole thing.

    I'd like to make a distinction between Glenn's approach and that taught at Art Center. The average drawings I've seen from Art Center are a little more stiff, and not quite as systematic in their exploration of the form as Glenn's. They're generally less organic, the planes are rendered but in a more mechanical, less supple fashion. Glenn's approach is really sophisticated and about as close to Renaissance figure drawing as anything I've seen. It's just that he can only go so far into his teaching in the short classes we had.

    Also, I think it's a little unfair to expect this level of instruction from ACCD, since the school at this point is primarily geared for Visual Development and Entertainment Design, both of which are respectable disciplines and require good structural drawing, but not even close to the level of the artists we are discussing here. There's no way to expect someone like Karl Brullov or Harlamov to emerge from Art Center, because 2 or even 4 years of drawing isn't enough to attain that level of mastery. These artists were probably schooled in drawing since they were age 10 or so, until their 20s. What's missing here is the infrastructure. Will is one of the main instructors at ACCD and he is exceedingly good. I also consider him to be Glenn's best student...he's really a remarkable teacher.

    Again, drawing approached do not exist in a vacuum, they are methods developed to solve specific problems.

    Best,

    -Ramon

    EDIT: I forgot to mention this...pursued to their ultimate conclusion by individuals with superb skills and good training, both approaches sculptural and optical, can arrive at very similar results when drawing the stationary model.

    PS. Those Otis drawings look nice
    hummel1dane, check this out!
    http://farighghaderi.com/academicdrawingfirenze.html
    This guy apparently studied both at FAA and at the Repin. Looks like he teaches Russian Academic drawing in Florence, you might want to check that out
    Last edited by Ramon Hurtado; June 15th, 2009 at 12:01 AM.
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  16. #21
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    Just found this online, good repros of some Russian drawings on ebay
    http://cgi.ebay.com.my/RUSSIAN-OLD-A...mZ300299030913
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  18. #22
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    Ramon, I find that wealth of information fascinating! I have also been pursing on and off for a number of years instructors/classes from both approaches.

    Glenn's approach is definitely geared more towards animation and drawing the figure from imagination. For him, the model becomes more of a guide to understanding and a source of inspiration - at the core of which lies gesture and construction.
    His instructors are the dead masters of the renaissance and medical books on cadavers, and he probably still manages to unearth a new one weekly. I doubt I will ever grasp his approach to tone and modeling, but I'm hoping to take a shot at it with the videos from one of his students.

    Sometimes it seems tough for me to jump between all the different approaches and I've yet figured out how to integrate them all together.

    Currently I'm very interested in the approach by CAI/Watts and the type of training coming out of China. And I wonder where on the spectrum they fall.
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  20. #23
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    Great information in here! hummel1dane, very precise and clear distinction between the systems, it makes things clearer for me.
    It's interesting to think of a school that teaches both approaches, but it seems that the full course of study at such a school would take about 10 years... hence the focus on a particular system.

    I think most art students (like most people) passively accept information given to them by their teachers, without researching on their own and questioning why things are taught the way they are.
    good point. Personally I believe that an artist who truly wants to learn and become great will do so. No matter if they're learning in only one system, or both, or are completely self taught. Teachers are extremely important but so is the skill of learning things for yourself - as an artist you're learning a lifetime long after all.
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  22. #24
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    Don't forget that Rembrandt and other Dutch/Flemish painters were involved with portraying daily life. They were NOT idealists. Check out Rembrandt's Adam and Eve!

    While we all deal with visual language, our sense of what art is about and what we are trying to express definitely shapes how and what we study in depth, what we work on, how we choose mediums, surfaces and processes.

    These are the questions that fine artists of any depth must ask themselves.

    Monet produced some of the greatest art I've ever experienced. I can't put into words what I felt and where those paintings took me. It was transcendent. I'm sure Monet couldn't have produced some of the work you've shown here - and he didn't need to. He was on a different path. His best work manages to convey his consciousness perceiving living, moving moments of time.

    It's the absolute opposite of trying to stop time and show something constant, still, absolute.

    Again: we all are using the same language and basic visual literacy is necessary for all of us, but we will develop profound understanding of those things that obsess us and are most needed to express our particular vision. Many of the artists whose drawings you are showing didn't understood light and color the way Monet did, nor did they want to. They wanted to paint the antithesis of transience.

    Mozart and Louis Armstrong both created music. Ballet and modern dance and tap all have basics in common. Art is no different.

    This subject won't be so overwhelming if we first decide what we are trying to do, what compels us, what we feel art should be and do...or as commercial artists, what we NEED to be able to do to get hired.

    You will not be able to be DaVinci, Rembrandt and Degas in one lifetime.




    John Angel, who I knew in Toronto before he painted with oils and hired to teach anatomy to my class when he returned from NY, definitely respected studying anatomy.
    The current atelier in Toronto does not teach anatomy but they are moving in that direction and do see it's value.
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  24. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxine Schacker View Post

    You will not be able to be DaVinci, Rembrandt and Degas in one lifetime.
    Very well said.
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  26. #26
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    Thanks Rebeccak, I will definetely include OTIS in the list of schools that teach the constructional system of the renaissance. Who is your teacher of this Bammes system?

    Maxine -

    "If the curriculum you list is all first year you are going much faster than we do!"

    There is no curiculum at the drawing academy where I stayed. They teach in the style of a russian atelier - your instructor simply comes and pushes you away from your drawing - and draw on your drawing for as long as they see fit. So it is much a way of drawing by seeing how it's supposed to be done - and then just struggling. Of course they give general talks about form and seeing in 3 dimensions, but the core way of learning is by watching your instructors draw.
    The day is usually divided into 3 hour model study in the morning followed by 3 hour bone drawing in the afternoon.
    Then there are guest teachers who teach various subjects such as perspective, sketching, composition.

    Panchosimpson - Vilppu has better flow and gesture then other constructional systems. But that is a general problem with the russian system, and I guess Gottfried Bammes as well - they do get a bit stiff(emphasis isn't on gesture, only construction and anatomy)

    One more thing, I think Vilppu uses a bit of a different way of construction - at the Drawing academy in Denmark we had a guest teacher who was a Vilppu student (for 4 years I think) - he told us that his way of constructing the figure was more loose and build on round forms (in general, like Leonardo) whereas the russians build up the form like if it was a stone(more square forms) - more in the manner of Michelangelo.

    Oh yes - such a difference can even be found in schools of the other system(in the way they render the figure) -
    At Angel Academy of Art they mostly teach round rendering - whereas at Florence academy, they teach planar.

    Yes most of the drawings I got comes from this chinese book. I'll post some in the near future.
    Last edited by hummel1dane; June 15th, 2009 at 05:08 PM.
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